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/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 0
6 / A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 0
n 1991, Tererai Trent was
one among many mil-
lions of women in the
Third World, living on the
edge with the stark real-
ity of hunger and abuse. A
turning point occurred for Tere-
rai the day Jo Luck came to her
village. Jo brought the word of
Heifer International, a nonprofit
with a pragmatic and profound
program of economic and social
empowerment that is transform-
ing lives and communities.
Jo is the busy leader of Heifer,
but that day she was a messenger
bringing hope, through planting
the seeds of possibility as she sat
in the circle of women. It was a
pivotal time for Tererai, for this
was the day she mustered the
courage to voice her unspoken
dreams of coming to America
and getting an education.
Today Tererai has emerged
from the abuse she suffered in
the past and has entered the
spotlight as an educated and em-
powered woman. Making a tre-
mendous leap from her remote
village in Zimbabwe, Tererai has
finally fulfilled the `impossible
dreams' she first voiced nearly
two decades ago sitting in the
circle with her mother, her vil-
lage sisters and Jo Luck.
In December 2009, she grad-
uated with a Ph.D. from Western
Michigan University, a stunning
achievement that has come true
through the strength of her spirit.
A guest on Oprah last Octo-
ber, Tererai's personal vision of
economic sustainability through
education is now being trans-
formed into a larger mission, to
work on behalf of women who
are not yet able to speak for
themselves and be heard. The
gift of inspiration and respect Jo
brought to her village is being
given again, as Tererai steps for-
ward now as an emissary.
Tererai knows, as deeply as
her pain, that without others who
cared, such as her wise mother
and Jo, her dreams would not
have been realized. It is in join-
ing with others that we have the
strength to maintain momentum
and to accomplish what seems
Tererai is a woman who has
earned not only a Ph.D., she has
earned the admiration of those
who hear her story. For all she
has experienced, Tererai shines
brightly as a candle of inspira-
tion and hope for us all. Salute
Each time one of us is able
to express the deep secrets that
keep us bound, there is a quan-
tum resonance wave of free-
dom that we all share. Now is the
time to become more engaged
in our own circles of care, and
let the experiences that have
kept us frozen in fear be dis-
solved in the light of the New
Year's dawning. As we begin
2010, may our care be the cata-
lyst to create a world of good.
Awareness: This is definitely
a case of `where there's a will
there's a way.' You have cer-
tainly lived that Tererai, so I just
want to acknowledge you.
Tererai: Thank you, but you
know, I could not have done it
by myself. There's my mother,
who is such an inspiration to my
life. I also had many others who
crossed my path and was for-
tunate to have individuals who
really believed in me.
Awareness: I really resonate
with what you said about your
mother, because I attribute so
much of the good of who I am to
my own mother, a very humble
woman who was tremendously
powerful because she had a
noble spirit.
Tererai: That's wonderful -- it
sounds like my mother also.
Awareness: I have felt so very
touched with how your mother
and some caring people stood
by you, so you could go forward
in your life despite some very
harsh circumstances.
Tererai: You know, at times
we come across people who
may be harsh, but if you listen
closely, sometimes you may dis-
cern something you can learn.
For me, that really helped. I ap-
preciated that behind the nega-
tivity, those individuals are also
victims, and they have a mes-
sage you can learn from.
Awareness: So you basically
met whatever life offered. How
remarkable that whether it was
difficult and challenging, or
supportive and nurturing, you
were able to find a way to move
Tererai: I never let difficult
circumstances define me. My
mother always said to me, "de-
spite all of the difficult things
that are in front of you, tap into
the woman in you and say this
is who I am." That really helped
me even when I was in circum-
stances where I felt really mar-
Awareness: That's pure wis-
dom not to let challenging cir-
cumstances define us in the
moment. Your mother's words
are very clear and that you uti-
lized her understanding is quite
clear also. Can you tell us a
bit about what was so difficult
when you were a young woman
living in your village?
Tererai: One thing that was
very difficult was the abuse I
went through with my ex-hus-
band. He was a very harsh and
strict man. To be beaten up and
have no decision making was
very difficult. As individuals we
want our dignity, we want a re-
lationship where we are loved
and respected.
To have someone beat and
insult you outside where every-
one can see was so hard for me.
Tererai Triumphs
from the Shadows into the Spotlight
By Donna Strong